The Mystery of Seagrass Island (Chapter 1)

After much consideration, I have decided to begin posting bits of the mystery novel that I am currently working on.  I need to stay focused on this project so that I can complete it. I also sincerely appreciate the feedback of my blog followers.  Writing is a very lonely occupation and any and all support and even constructive criticism is welcome. Please keep in mind that these are the unedited, unpublished bits of a work in progress.  I will do a “rough first draft kind of edit” before putting them on this blog but they will be edited many times over before they go into a book.  It is entirely possible that the plot line and entire characters may change before the book is actually published. If I make any major changes during the course of the story, I will try to warn the reader.  If you catch something that I don’t (and there is a very good chance that you could), please feel free to let me know!  My hope is that it will be entertaining for you to read. I would be honored if you would come along with me on the journey as I write my first mystery novel.

Palmetto trees bent over almost touching the ground as they swept over and over again as if in their own private dance. Margie couldn’t believe her eyes as she watched the usually serene landscape become a windswept horror film.

“Lloyd, get in here quick!” she yelled.

“Oh my,” he said ominously. “The winds have crept up on us faster than I thought.”

“I told you we should have left sooner,” said Margie.

“You’re right, you’re right,” Lloyd said. “Well, let’s get to moving now and stop looking like that at me or I’ll have to get you some eye deodorant!”

“Say, what?” said Margie while raising one eyebrow.

“Quit giving me the ole stink eye,” said Lloyd with a satisfied smile.

Margie just grumbled, “Oh you!”

They grabbed their emergency bags packed with all the necessary items and ran out the door. Lloyd held on to it so it wouldn’t come off the hinges and then pressed it closed and locked it. He then grabbed Margie’s arm and steered her towards their car.

For once, he was glad to have the old heavy metal Cadillac that Margie loved so much. Maybe it wouldn’t float off the road in the wind as easy. He laughed nervously to himself. As they merged onto the interstate, they realized that they weren’t the only ones to wait until the last minute to leave. Traffic was at a standstill. The wind whipped around them as they came to a complete stop.

Lloyd said, “Maybe we should pray?”

“Yes,” said Margie. “Let’s pray I don’t kill you for taking so long to get ready…that is if we survive!”

“Okay, okay, you are right, let’s pray,” Margie sighed.

Lloyd led them both in a quick prayer for the safety of everyone sitting there in the storm. They both felt a bit better about the situation after having handed it over to the big guy, as Lloyd often referred to him.

“Now,” said Margie, “what did you have to do this morning that took two hours to finish?”

Our new neighbors from Maine were not intending to evacuate.

“What?” Margie asked incredulously.

“Well, they aren’t from here and just didn’t know any better,” said Lloyd.

“Oh my goodness,” said Margie. “What did you do to convince them?”

“I brought them some of the pictures that we took after Hurricane Hugo for them to see,” Lloyd smirked.

Margie, said, “Well, that ought to do it.”

“It did,” said Lloyd. “Then I had to help them shut off their gas and electric and board up their windows or I’m still not sure they would have left.””

Margie shook her head. “I don’t understand why people put so much importance on stuff they have collected. They aren’t taking any of it with them when they leave this world.”

The traffic started slowly moving again as the cars crept forward in a stop and go fashion. Margie lowered her seat and pushed up against the silky pillow she was very glad that she had not forgotten to bring along. As she closed her eyes, she thought about all the damage and destruction that awaited her and Lloyd when they came back home to Charleston after Hurricane Hugo. The flattened houses and automobiles, boats stranded in the middle of streets, and the looting. She just couldn’t understand why people were so cruel. How could they sleep at night after taking things from people who had lost everything? What kind of a person would even do that? Who would even think to do that? She was awakened from her reverie by Lloyd, muttering loudly.

“What’s wrong?” Margie asked.

“It’s that van in front of us,” Lloyd said. “I’m not sure they are paying attention to what they are doing. They keep swaying from side to side and stopping suddenly. I would go around but as both lanes are packed that isn’t really an option.”

“Wait a minute,” said Margie. “I think I know that van. Look at the bumper sticker on the bottom right.”

The lettering was a bit faded but still readable. In block lettering it said, “Seagrass Island Arts Center.”

“Sure enough, you’ve still got a good eye, Margie,” said Lloyd admiring his wife of thirty-one years. “I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else.”

Margie blushed, “Oh, Lloyd. I’ve just been up at the arts center quite a lot lately and have seen the van around. I guess it belongs to Annabelle, the owner.”

“Well, if I was her, I would be taking anything valuable with me,” said Lloyd.

“Maybe that’s it,” said Margie. “Maybe she is loaded down and having trouble driving?”

“Well, if the traffic stops again completely, like it did while ago, you can go ask her,” Lloyd laughed.

“Don’t tease me, Lloyd, I might just do that!”

And as if on cue, everything halted. Margie looked at Lloyd.

“Awww, I was just teasing Margie, don’t do it,” protested Lloyd.

Margie, pressed her lips together firmly and opened the door. She quickly strode up to the van from the passenger side and the tinted window was only down about two inches but Margie could see a shock of bright red hair sticking up.

Someone from the back of the van spoke sharply and the window rolled up quickly. Margie was taken aback and retreated quickly to her car as she saw the vehicles ahead begin to roll. She climbed in and buckled up with a perturbed look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” asked Lloyd.

“Isn’t Annabelle blond?” asked Margie still confused.

“Yep, last time I checked,” said Lloyd.

“Well, whoever was driving that van had bright red hair, another passenger in the back and they didn’t want to talk to me,” said Margie thoughtfully.

“Well, I wouldn’t worry about it,” said Lloyd. “There is probably a perfectly good explanation. I mean, if it was someone else hauling art for Annabelle and they didn’t know who you were, maybe they were nervous about possible thieves?”

“Do I look like a thief?” asked Margie.

“No,” said Lloyd and quickly added with a smile, “but you always look a little bit dangerous to me.”

“Oh, you,” said Margie and smiled in return.

To be continued…